Dear Lisa: I live in a suburb of Detroit and yesterday a hawk flew across my yard while my 6.5 pound "Yorkie" was in the middle of the yard. The hawk was about 15 to 20 feet above my dog before it flew into a tree. Is this a potential danger to my dog?
While I have not personally heard of hawks flying off with small dogs, I did have a similar experience to yours with a litter of puppies. Three of my Norwegian Elkhound puppies were out in my yard in a small pen. There were maybe five pounds each at the time, about six-weeks-old. At one point I noticed a large shadow flying above and looked up to see two Hawks circling. I immediately brought the puppies inside just to be on the safe side.
Afterward, I did some research and found that a variety of hawks do dine on small mammals such as moles, squirrels, and mice for example and occasionally the larger rabbit or hare. They hunt by watching from a nearby perch, usually a tree, and then swoop down, talons extended and grab their prey. Hawks have excellent eye site and can spot a darting mouse from at least a mile away. When hunting hawks can either hover high above their target or dive low over the ground.
I recommend that you walk your Yorkie on a leash at all times, not only to keep it earth-bound should a swooping Hawk think it is his dinner, but because one of the tenets of responsible dog ownership is to adhere to local leash laws in your community and not let your dog roam unattended.
If you have a question, send it to Lisa at AskLisa@AKC.org and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions she cannot offer individual responses.